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ANCIENT EYES by David Niall Wilson. Modesto, CA; Bloodletting Press; 2007. 1st edition hardcover.

Publisher's Description for ANCIENT EYES

There are communities in America that have been closeted away since the earliest European explorers arrived. They brought their families and they brought their possessions and their beliefs, both open and secret. In the mountains overlooking San Valencez, California, one such community exists. In the midst of that community there is a broken-down wooden church. Above the doorway of that church, from the alcove in which they were placed generation before, two eyes stare out across the pews toward the broken and abandoned baptismal pool. They are ancient eyes, filled with malice and they draw strength from wood and stone, from the very bones of the mountain. The head they belong to is carved of wood brought from another place and another time, preserved and revered, then shunned and feared. Alone, in that old church, this carving has spread her roots, the power embodied in the crudely carved lines of her face deepening and shifting to match more perfectly with her new home. The carved head is just the mask of her power, and she bided her time for a century or more until the time was right for another power to be recalled to the mountain. Mysterious symbols on their doors and a siren call of irresistible force draw Silas Greene and his neighbors into the woods. Entering the trees under the cover of darkness they find a fire and in this fire Silas is reborn to something greater than he was; something darker. His neighbors flee in terror, but they are already too late. They bear his mark now and will be brought under his influence one by one as he begins his campaign of slow terror and dark control, intent on bringing the old crippled church back to life.

Once, there were two churches on the mountain. Like the first, however, the other has fallen to disrepair as well, abandoned after the death of Reverend Jonathan Carlson and the subsequent disappearance of his only son, who would have been next in line to serve. The old stone chapel has long stood against the forces behind the white wooden one, but with its hearth cold and its altars bare, there is none ready to stand against the new threat of Silas Greene and his dark designs.

Sarah Carlson, Reverend Carlson’s widow, tries, in her own way, to fight back. She sends a message to her son, Abraham, and then, alone, she climbs to the stone church, intending to make it ready for her son’s return. Sarah’s own people are not from this mountain, but she understands the ways of the thing in the white church well enough. The carved head, and the power it represents, are from an older culture, beyond the short life span of Christianity. Unfortunately, she is careless, and with her husband dead, the people of the mountain will not stand behind her. Greene thwarts her efforts easily.

Abraham, her son, has forged a new life for himself in the world beyond the mountain and has no intention of coming back. That is, he has no such intentions until he begins to have vivid nightmares that draw him back to times and places he has repressed, and it becomes increasingly difficult for him to ignore their dark warnings and symbolic terrors. His girlfriend, Katrina, has issues of her own, but she recognizes the need in Abraham, and wants to help. In the end, hearing of the disappearance of his estranged mother, Abraham makes the trip back to the mountain, leaving by night and with only a note of explanation left for Katrina.

What follows is the struggle of a boy to recover what was lost of a man – his own father – and to finish what his father left undone, cleansing the mountain of the thing in the white church and its new disciple. Unknown to Abraham, Katrina does not take well to being left behind and makes her way to the mountain on his heels, only to be captured by Silas Greene and his followers.

As the final confrontation draws near, we see a young man coming of age, a great love born, and a battle that – in the end – is more than just a struggle for the lives of a few families living isolated on a mountain. It is a struggle both with the past and with the future at once, and the conclusion is anything but certain as Greene, Abraham, Katrina, the spirits of Abraham’s past, and the inhabitants of the mountain grapple with one another and their own inner demons for control of the church, the mountain, and their lives.

Issued in a SIGNED/LIMITED edition of 300 hardcover copies. OUT OF PRINT FROM THE PUBLISHER. Fine in fine dj.

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